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Review: Sustained by Emma Chase

sustainedA knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.

When you’re a defense attorney in Washington, DC, you see firsthand how hard life can be, and that sometimes the only way to survive is to be harder. I, Jake Becker, have a reputation for being cold, callous, and intimidating—and that suits me just fine. In fact, it’s necessary when I’m breaking down a witness on the stand.

Complications don’t work for me—I’m a “need-to-know” type of man. If you’re my client, tell me the basic facts. If you’re my date, stick to what will turn you on. I’m not a therapist or Prince Charming—and I don’t pretend to be.

Then Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews came along and complicated the ever-loving hell out of my life. Now I’m going to Mommy & Me classes, One Direction concerts, the emergency room, and arguing cases in the principal’s office.

Chelsea’s too sweet, too innocent, and too gorgeous for her own good. She tries to be tough, but she’s not. She needs someone to help her, defend her…and the kids.

And that — that, I know how to do.

If I’m ever on the lookout for a fun, hot romance from the male point of view, I always turn to Emma Chase. There’s something about the way she writes from the guy’s viewpoint – and sense of humour – that works for me, and I was pretty happy to see that Sustained continued that trend. Here, we are introduced to Jake Becker, a self-confident, successful, no-bullshit kind of guy who believes in getting in (and off) before getting out. He’s kind of a jerk, but he’s at least an honest jerk, and he likes his life just the way it is … until a young boy steals his wallet, and Jake ends up entangled in a life he definitely didn’t intend to find.

As I mentioned, Chase excels at finding the humour in a guy’s point of view, and Jake’s observations about life with six kids are pretty funny. You can see how he’s falling for this family, and for their aunt and guardian, Chelsea. As readers, we don’t have much from Chelsea except for Jake’s observations, and it’s interesting to note how he becomes more in tune with her emotions and moods as the book progresses. I would have liked to have more about Chelsea, but even from the male perspective it’s easy to see that Chase wrote an authentic overwhelmed aunt in her, especially as she walked that razor edge of trying to keep thing together with the family by sublimating her own grief. Your heart aches for her when she finally lets go, and you feel as helpless as Jake to get her through things when the last straw breaks.

The slow burn between Jake and Chelsea means that the anticipation grows between the two of them, and when they finally do get together, it’s even hotter because you know that they mean more to each other than just one night. Their heat is mixed with humour as well, especially with six kids in the house, and it’s fun to see how creative they need to be at times.

For those who fear the plot-moppet device in romance, relax: this is one of the few books I’ve read where the kids are actually portrayed as normal kids. They fall, they get hurt, they do stupid things sometimes, and they can be surprisingly sweet. I enjoyed reading about the kids as much as the adults and their interactions with Jake were as meaningful as Chelsea’s. One of my favourite scene involved Jake taking the twins boxing after Raymond confesses to being bullied at school, simply because you could see how Jake’s mind was starting to think about his own past and how he was changing his own behaviour to model Atticus rather than Jake’s father. There are other great moments, such as the Mommy & Me competitive baby racing and the One Direction earworm issue that must be read to be enjoyed at their fullest.

In fact, that’s what I really enjoyed about this book, full stop. Jake changes a lot over the course of the book, but only in a way that stays true to his initial character. He’s not some law wunderkind; he works hard to fight his cases, and eventually, he fights them for the people he cares about. He has definite expectations for himself, and he manages to demonstrate those by his actions. By the end, he’s still the same guy he was at the beginning … only better.

Sustained was a quick read for me, mainly because I really liked Jake and his interactions with friends and Chelsea and his family. While I haven’t read the first book in the series, it’s now on my TBR pile, and I’m looking forward to the third book in the series.

Sustained is published by Gallery Books, and a copy was provided in exchange for an honest review. It is available for purchase now from your favourite online, indie or chain bookseller. ISBN: 9781501102073, 272 pages.

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